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There is nothing that feels better than a good laugh. Who would you rather spend the day with, a person who always laughs to make you feel good, or someone who is depressed? Of course, you want to be with the person who makes you smile, because it lifts your spirits.
Laughter is like good medicine for the soul. Research from Oxford shows that the whole body is affected by a good laugh. Did you know that when you laugh, your brain releases chemicals that can heal your mood and improve pain receptors?
After all, there may be something to the adage about laughter and your overall health.
Our ancestors didn't laugh like us
The University of Oxford conducted a study to test the theory on stomach giggles. Sadly, they based their study on early humans who reportedly didn't laugh much. Times were tough and they focused on work rather than pleasure.
Other reasons for a more serious lifestyle were the fact that they lived in tribal groups and lived alongside dangerous predators. Survival was always on their minds. Perhaps never really resting is the reason our ancestors didn't live long - the constant fear they faced and the fact that they never had any downtime for pleasure got their brains on.
To conduct the study, the Oxford researchers divided people into two groups to assess their pain thresholds. One group watched comedy videos that made them laugh while the other group watched golf. The volunteers who attended the comedy shows had a pain threshold that was 10 percent higher than the group that watched the more mundane shows.
The group that watched golf could bear almost no pain after just 15 minutes of boring TV shows. His test concluded that laughing had an impact on his test subjects' pain tolerance.
TYPE OF LAUGH
Laughter can be divided into several different categories. For example, laughing is not the same as a laugh. During the study, they showed that a simple giggle here or there didn't have much of a physiological effect on the participants.
It was those who experienced a good laugh that had the most substantial benefits. Uncontrollable laughter seems to be the most healing. Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford himself put his experience into the findings.
Dunbar led the research, and concluded that it is when a person experiences comic hilarity that the brain reacts. Once an individual enters this state, the brain begins to release endorphins. Every person is different, but the amount of endorphins released was enough to ease the pain, with some even saying they experienced a mild euphoria.
WHY DOES LAUGHING SOMETIMES HURT?
When it comes to our earliest ancestors, he concluded that apes have the ability to laugh. However, humans are the only ones who can laugh. When someone says they laugh until it hurts, there is some truth to what they are saying.
When a person laughs, they empty the air that is in their lungs. Consequently, it is this action that causes the body to go into protective mode. It releases these endorphins to combat the pain a person feels from shortness of breath.
Some people feel weak and dizzy when they laugh for a long time. Not only do they deplete your lungs, but your brain doesn't get enough oxygen. The lack of oxygen is enough to cause a person to experience these feelings of panic, but they will pass quickly once air is restored.
BEING HAPPY CAN HAVE A SIMILAR EFFECT TO ANTI-DEPRESSORS
We have established that laughter can release endorphins to help with pain receptors. However, it is also proven that a cheerful person who laughs a lot does not need antidepressants. In a world where more than 25 million adults take these drugs for anxiety and depression, something natural is welcome.
When you laugh, your brain is stimulated and releases neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are the same ones that are stimulated with antidepressant medications. Although how long the effects last has not yet been proven, it is amazing that participating in such a pleasant activity can bring calm to the body.
A LAUGH CAN PROTECT YOUR HEART
It seems a bit far-fetched that something as funny as a laugh can protect your heart, but it's true. The University of Maryland Medical Center did a study to see what kind of effect laughter had on heart patients. They found that it has an anti-inflammatory effect, which can protect the heart from disease.
Experts aren't sure exactly how this all happens, but they think it has something to do with the body's response to stress. When the body is under attack, the inflammatory system goes into overdrive, causing further inflammation. However, engaging in a good laugh proves the opposite.
So it's true that those who are stressed the most are putting their heart at risk, and those who are less stressed tend to have a better chance of keeping cardiovascular disease at bay.
LAUGHTER IS CRUCIAL TO RELATIONSHIPS
Did you know that women laugh more than men? Consequently, men are the instigators, but women are the ones who fall for their jokes and puns. There is an interesting theory that men rely on their humor to find the perfect match.
Women want a man who has a good sense of humor, and they need someone who doesn't take life too seriously. It helps to balance the natural anguish of the feminine nature.
Men want someone who is cheerful and who is not afraid to laugh a lot. When faced with potential suitors, a man will choose the girl who laughs a lot twice over the one who doesn't. The couple that laughs together stays together.
It seems that a lot of studies have been done on the main traits that both women and men want in a relationship. Since it seems that a laugh is so important, it is not negotiable. Reports show that couples who are upbeat and laugh out loud often have a high-quality relationship. Also, they are more likely to stay together in the long term.
WE CREATE SOCIAL BONUSES THROUGH LAUGHTER
Laughter is contagious. Did you know that when a group of people laugh and tease, it gives them a sense of togetherness? It sounds crazy, but you join people who make you happy.
You are naturally attracted to people who make you feel good and increase your endorphin activity in the brain. Have you ever started laughing when you don't understand the joke or don't even listen to what was said?
When you laugh, it is contagious and makes others do the same. Soon enough, no one is sure why everyone is laughing, but they know they feel good and want to experience it over and over again.
LAUGHING HAS A SIMILAR EFFECT AS TAKING A NARCOTIC
We live in a society where people suffer so much emotional, mental and physical pain that they use heroin and other opioid drugs to self-medicate. The more medicines they take, the stronger the effect.
However, studies show that laughter releases the same feel-good chemicals from opioid receptors in the brain. Those drugs bind to these receptors and cause euphoria.
Surprisingly, you may experience the same feeling of euphoria that accompanies drug use, but you won't have any of the horrible side effects or addiction problems. If only more people could learn that a laugh is so healing and cleansing for the mind, body and soul, we would be better off as a society.
FINAL THOUGHTS: LAUGHING LIKE GOOD MEDICINE
All the research on laughter shows that it is good for the heart. When you select your friends or spouse, you want someone to make you happy. You need someone who can turn the most direct and mundane task of going to the grocery store into a memorable event.
They say that life is about 10 percent of what happens to you and about 90 percent of how you react to it. You can stay on the sunny side by simply changing your attitude and incorporating a good laugh into each day.
Laughter has often been shown to have the same effect as opioids and prescription drugs; It can increase ties with friends and can heal the heart and inflammatory system. Why would you choose to take medicine when you have the power of your health in your hand?
You can laugh through some of the most horrible things that come your way, and you'll be a better person for it.